jpnat10

Mori Defeats Ikeda for Japan Title

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The 2010 Japan National Championship has drawn to a close! The Top 8 was set with four seasoned veterans of the Pro Tour and four newcomers to the premier level stage. The vets? Former Player of the Year Shouta Yasooka, Pro Tour Top 8er Naoki Shimizu, the legendary Tsuyoshi Ikeda, and former world champion Katsuhiro Mori.

Across the bracket from those four were a host of names little was known about. For Ryouichi Tamada, Shou Tagomori, Shou Ishikawa, and Jinpei Hassaku it was their chance to make their mark on the Japanese scene. Tagomori and Tamada escaped the Quarterfinals but were felled in the Semifinals by the more seasoned of their compatriots. That set up a playoff between the two in order to determine which would join his teammates to represent Team Japan at the 2010 World Championships. The winner? Shou Tagomori.

All that set up a Finals between legends Katsuhiro Mori and Tsuyoshi Ikeda. Tsuyoshi had beaten one red deck already on the day but Mori was no average red mage. Throughout the Top 8 he had managed to open on a first turn Goblin Guide, one of the most powerful plays in Standard, nearly every game. He continued that streak through the Finals allowing him to sweep his opponent to repeat and become a two-time Japanese National Champion.

Congratulations to Katsuhiro Mori, the 2010 Japanese National Champion!



Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Katsuhiro Mori   Katsuhiro Mori, 3-0        
8 Naoki Shimizu   Katsuhiro Mori, 3-2
       
4 Ryouichi Tamada   Ryouichi Tamada, 3-2   Katsuhiro Mori, 3-0
5 Jinpei Hassaku    
       
2 Shou Ishikawa   Shou Tagomori, 3-1
7 Shou Tagomori   Tsuyoshi Ikeda, 3-2
       
3 Tsuyoshi Ikeda   Tsuyoshi Ikeda, 3-2
6 Shouta Yasooka    

3rd Place Playoff  
Ryouichi Tamada Shou Tagomori, 3-2
Shou Tagomori


EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER
  • by Bill Stark
    Finals:
    Tsuyoshi Ikeda vs. Katsuhiro Mori

  • by Bill Stark
    Playoff:
    Ryouichi Tamada vs. Shou Tagomori

  • by Bill Stark
    Semifinals:
    Shou Tagomori vs. Katsuhiro Mori

  • by Bill Stark
    Semifinals:
    Tsuyoshi Ikeda vs. Ryouichi Tamada

  • by Bill Stark
    Quarterfinals:
    Tsuyoshi Ikeda vs. Shouta Yasooka

  • by Bill Stark
    Quarterfinals:
    Katsuhiro Mori vs. Naoki Shimizu

  • by Bill Stark
    Top 8:
    Player Profiles

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8: Decklists

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2:
    Complete Day 2 Coverage


  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1:
    Complete Day 1 Coverage

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

INFORMATION
 1.  Mori, Katsuhiro $3,000
 2.  Ikeda, Tsuyoshi $2,000
 3.  Tagomori, Shou $1,200
 4.  Tamada, Ryouichi $1,000
 5.  Yasooka, Shouta $750
 6.  Ishikawa, Shou $750
 7.  Shimizu, Naoki $750
 8.  Hassaku, Jinpei $750
Pairings Results Standings
Final

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  • Top 8: Player Profiles
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Katsuhiro Mori

    Name: Katsuhiro Mori
    Hometown: Osaka
    Age: 27
    Profession: Professional gamer
    Previous Significant Magic Achievements: 2005 World Champion, 2005 Grand Prix Niigata Champion, 2010 Grand Prix Yokohama Champion, 2003 Venice Masters Champion, 2006 Japan Nationals Champion, 2006 “The Finals” Champion, 2 World Championship Top 8s (2006, 2007), 15 Grand Prix Top 8s.
    Results
    Day 1 Constructed: 4-0
    Day 1 Limited: 3-0
    Day 2 Limited: 2-1
    Day 2 Constructed: 2-1-1
    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Mostly Magic Online.
    Tell us about the deck you used for the Standard portion of the tournament. What changes if any did you make to the design?
    I played MonoRed, adjusted to handle any other matchup.
    Any memorable matches this weekend?
    I was playing against KTO, and my Goblin Guide missed every time.
    Other than your own, what deck(s) in your opinion stood out this weekend?
    Ken Yukuhiro’s LD deck.
    What is your favorite format, and why?
    I like playing Limited at premier events. You have to be really serious and draft a deck that can win, so you really pay attention to the cards and how they work together.
    How do you feel going into the Top 8?
    I plan to win the whole thing.


    Jinpei Hassaku

    Name: Jinpei Hassaku
    Hometown: Kyoto
    Age: 31
    Profession: Freelancer
    Previous significant Magic achievements: 24th place at Pro Tour Houston 2002, Top 4 in “The Finals” 2003.
    Results
    Day 1 Constructed: 3-1
    Day 1 Limited: 2-1
    Day 2 Limited: 2-1
    Day 2 Constructed: 4-0
    Where do you normally play Magic?
    I play a lot of 2-ticket Swiss drafts in Magic Online. My friends and I play Standard and Sealed at my house, and we also play in tournaments at Amenity Dream Kyoto.
    Tell us about the deck you used for the Standard portion of the tournament. What changes if any did you make to the design?
    I used a Jund deck I built with an emphasis on creatures, including 4 Broodmate Dragons.
    Any memorable matches this weekend?
    It seemed like every time I was in a feature match nothing came together.
    Other than your own, what deck(s) in your opinion stood out this weekend?
    None.
    What is your favorite format, and why?
    I like Standard. I really enjoy playing the Jund mirror match.
    How do you feel going into the Top 8?
    I want to focus on the quarterfinals.


    Tsuyoshi Ikeda

    Name: Tsuyoshi Ikeda
    Hometown: Fukuoka
    Age: 37
    Profession: Manager, Card Shop Fireball
    Previous significant Magic achievements: Pro Tour Austin 2009 Finalist, Grand Prix Niigata 2009 Champion.
    Results
    Day 1 Constructed: 3-0-1
    Day 1 Limited: 2-1
    Day 2 Limited: 2-1
    Day 2 Constructed: 4-0
    Where do you normally play Magic?
    At the Fireball main store or Magic Online.
    Tell us about the deck you used for the Standard portion of the tournament. What changes if any did you make to the design?
    I used Brad Nelson’s RUW Planeswalkers, with some tweaks because it’s the third time I’ve used it.
    Any memorable matches this weekend?
    In the third match of both drafts I couldn’t draw anything and lost to KTO and Yasooka. I hated it.
    Other than your own, what deck(s) in your opinion stood out this weekend?
    S.O.S.
    What is your favorite format, and why?
    Draft—it’s always different and fun.
    How do you feel going into the Top 8?
    I want to be champion, of course.


    Naoki Shimizu

    Name: Naoki Shimizu
    Hometown: Kamakura
    Age: 23
    Profession: Amoeboid Changeling.
    Previous significant Magic achievements: 2006 Japan National Championship Top 8, Grand Prix Kyoto 2007 Top 8, 3rd place at Pro Tour Austin 2009.
    Results
    Day 1 Constructed: 3-1
    Day 1 Limited: 2-1
    Day 2 Limited: 3-0
    Day 2 Constructed: 3-1
    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Lately, I play a lot of Magic Online. I broadcast my games on Livetube!
    Tell us about the deck you used for the Standard portion of the tournament. What changes if any did you make to the design?
    I played Previous Level Bant with some tweaks of my own. I believe that if I don’t make my own deck the cards will betray me.
    Any memorable matches this weekend?
    In the last round of the Swiss, Elspeth, who I thought had sworn loyalty to me, decided to play hide-and-seek in my deckbox and I got a Game Loss. Traitor!
    Other than your own, what deck(s) in your opinion stood out this weekend?
    Ken Yukuhiro’s URG land destruction deck. He ended up in 9th place after starting 1-3, then winning 9 in a row.
    What is your favorite format, and why?
    Standard. I think the depth of the card pool is just right.
    How do you feel going into the Top 8?
    I want to do my best to not get angry and shout if something goes wrong.


    Shou Ishikawa

    Name: Shou Ishikawa
    Hometown: Tokyo
    Age: 27
    Profession: Liquor store owner
    Previous significant Magic achievements: Grand Prix Niigata 2009 Top 8.
    Results
    Day 1 Constructed: 4-0
    Day 1 Limited: 2-1
    Day 2 Limited: 2-0-1
    Day 2 Constructed: 3-1
    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Amenity Dream Ikebukuro, Planeswalker’s Cup in Yokohama, the FDC tournaments.
    Tell us about the deck you used for the Standard portion of the tournament. What changes if any did you make to the design?
    I played a Bant deck I designed myself. My best play is to put Trace of Abundance on a Celestial Colonnade.
    Any memorable matches this weekend?
    I drew a game in Limited where the life totals were 45 versus 1. There was an Oust that got copied 6 times.
    Other than your own, what deck(s) in your opinion stood out this weekend?
    The Esper Conscription deck that “Kimtaku” played. He went 8-0 with it in a Qualifier, and I wanted to play against it.
    What is your favorite format, and why?
    Standard—it’s ever-changing and always fresh.
    How do you feel going into the Top 8?
    Wish me luck, everyone!


    Shota Yasooka

    Name: Shota Yasooka
    Hometown: Tokyo
    Age: 25
    Profession: ???
    Previous significant Magic achievements: 2006 Pro Player of the Year, numerous Grand Prix Top 8s.
    Results
    Day 1 Constructed: 4-0
    Day 1 Limited: 1-2
    Day 2 Limited: 3-0
    Day 2 Constructed: 3-1
    Where do you normally play Magic?
    I don’t play much.
    Tell us about the deck you used for the Standard portion of the tournament. What changes if any did you make to the design?
    I played a standard Jund deck. Simple is best.
    Any memorable matches this weekend?
    The match with KTO where the Top 8 was on the line.
    Other than your own, what deck(s) in your opinion stood out this weekend?
    None.
    What is your favorite format, and why?
    I don’t really have one. I don’t play favorites.
    How do you feel going into the Top 8?
    Well, I want to win, obviously.


    Shu Tagomori

    Name: Shu Tagomori
    Hometown: Nara
    Age: 25
    Profession: Company employee
    Previous significant Magic achievements: None
    Results
    Day 1 Constructed: 3-1
    Day 1 Limited: 3-0
    Day 2 Limited: 3-0
    Day 2 Constructed: 3-1
    Where do you normally play Magic?
    In my hometown with my friends. I often travel to Osaka to play in tournaments there.
    Tell us about the deck you used for the Standard portion of the tournament. What changes if any did you make to the design?
    I played a Jund deck with some sideboard changes I wanted to try out.
    Any memorable matches this weekend?
    I topdecked a Mountain in one of my draft games which allowed my Kargan Dragonlord to go nuts.
    Other than your own, what deck(s) in your opinion stood out this weekend?
    The UW decks with Lost Sovereigns. I just roll over to them.
    What is your favorite format, and why?
    Limited. I like that it’s different every time.
    How do you feel going into the Top 8?
    I hope to borrow some of Sento’s power and use it to win!


    Ryouichi Tamada

    Name: Ryouichi Tamada
    Hometown: Osaka
    Age: 25
    Profession: Software engineer
    Previous significant Magic achievements: None
    Results
    Day 1 Constructed: 3-1
    Day 1 Limited: 3-0
    Day 2 Limited: 2-1
    Day 2 Constructed: 3-0-1
    Where do you normally play Magic?
    At Satoshi Miyamoto’s tournaments and at Niji-iro Kujira.
    Tell us about the deck you used for the Standard portion of the tournament. What changes if any did you make to the design?
    I played a mono-red deck I built myself. The most noticeable thing is it’s all 4-ofs.
    Any memorable matches this weekend?
    I beat a Conscription Bant deck with just Earthquake and Searing Blaze.
    Other than your own, what deck(s) in your opinion stood out this weekend?
    Vampires.
    What is your favorite format, and why?
    Standard, because it’s easy to play.
    How do you feel going into the Top 8?
    I hope to not make any play mistakes.


     

  • Quarterfinals: Katsuhiro Mori vs. Naoki Shimizu
    by Bill Stark
  • Naoki Shimizu

    Being the rare breed of Magic player with a Pro Tour Top 8 on your resume puts you into an elite class of player few will ever know the graces of. Unfortunately for Naoki Shimizu, who earned the accolade after making the Top 8 of Pro Tour-Austin in 2009, he found his resume paled in comparison to his Quarterfinals opponent at the 2010 Japan National Championship. That man? Katsuhiro Mori who was a former Japan national champion and a former world champion. Both were talented players, but Naoki would have his work cut out for him to take the superstar down in order to advance to the Semifinals.

    That uphill battle became decidedly more pronounced as Naoki found himself mulliganing to five to kick off the first game. A Goblin Guide, his opponent's most aggressive start, hit on the first turn and immediately went on the warpath. Shimizu found a Wall of Omens to help him play defense but Katsuhiro cast Lightning Bolt targeting Naoki; when a red mage starts sending burn to the face a player knows they're in trouble.

    Shimizu gained a slight reprieve as Mori found himself stuck on just two lands and unable to attack through the 0/4 Wall. When he finally found a third land he was able to cast Hell's Thunder but had the 4/4 permanently answered via Path to Exile when it moved to the red zone; at least he knew he'd hit his fourth land drop.

    But the creature path wasn't Mori's plan any longer and he switched gears to just burn. The spells continued going straight to Naoki's face with a second Lightning Bolt taking him to 5. Mori revealed a Quenchable Fire maindeck to make it 2 and though Shimizu had access to blue mana to pay for the extra damage from the spell, Katsuhiro had one final burn spell to finish the injured Shimizu off and they headed to the second game.

    Katsuhiro Mori 1, Naoki Shimizu 0

    The mulligan troubles continued for Naoki in the second game as he had to ship back his hand of seven for a hand of six. He was able to keep those but took 2 as Katsuhiro Mori had a first-turn Goblin Guide yet again. Naoki was ready with Wall of Omens to help with blocking duty on his turn two, but Teetering Peaks pre-combat from Mori made the Guide a 4/2 and begged the question of whether Naoki was willing to sacrifice his Wall to block in order to save himself 4 life. He was, and the 0/4 hit the bin.

    Katsuhiro Mori

    Sea Gate Oracle gave Shimizu a strong follow-up and another means of blocking his opponent's Goblin. Lightning Bolt from Mori put a damper on those plans, however, and Hellspark Elemental joined the Guide to drop Naoki to 13 life. A second Wall of Omens from Naoki was killed with Flame Slash and Mori unearthed his Hellspark Elemental and sent his team back in to drop Shimizu to just 8 life.

    With a hand full of Sovereigns of Lost Alara and Eldrazi Conscription, Naoki Shimizu found himself in the wrong position: having drawn his expensive spells while sitting on five mana. Fortunately for him his opponent started to flood and found himself in the exact opposite position. With Naoki on 6 life Mori drew card after card, passing calmly. He wasn't going to pull the trigger on his burn spells until his opponent tapped out, or he was sitting on a lot of lands in hand on a bluff.

    A Cunning Sparkmage came off the top for the red mage, and he cast it. That forced Naoki's hand and he used Bant Charm in an attempt to put it to the bottom of his opponent's library. In response the Sparkmage turned sideways to blow up a Birds of Paradise.

    Naoki finally found himself with enough mana to cast Sovereigns of Lost Alara with two left over to bluff Negate. He didn't have the counter, however, and Katsuhiro called, revealing his hand to be not land but spells and sending a host of red instants and sorceries at his opponent's head on his turn. Naoki nodded solemnly and found himself behind by two games.

    Katsuhiro Mori 2, Naoki Shimizu 0

    The mulligan woes continued yet again for Naoki Shimizu's Bant Conscription deck and he sent back not one but two hands to his library for the third game of the match. He got a small reprieve in the fact his opponent didn't have a Goblin Guide on the first turn for the first time in their games, but Mori pressed in with a second-turn Hellspark Elemental. Shimizu, stuck on an Island and a Forest for lands, missed his third land drop and passed with a grip full of white cards.

    Shimizu found a third land but it did not make white mana. He used it to cast Sea Gate Oracle, but his 1/3 failed to find him a source of white too. Hell's Thunder pressed in for Mori, who followed up with a second the next turn and even had Teetering Peaks to pump it. The 4/4s proved to be far too much for poor Naoki's mana screwed board position and in lackluster fashion he found himself out of the 2010 Japan National Championship Top 8 just one round after he had started it.

    Katsuhiro Mori 3, Naoki Shimizu 0

    Katsuhiro Mori vs. Naoki Shimizu

     

  • Quarterfinals: Tsuyoshi Ikeda vs. Shouta Yasooka
    by Bill Stark
  • For many years the Pro Tour failed to respect pros from the island nation of Japan, but with his Player of the Year title in 2006 Shouta Yasooka helped shake that assumption to the core and effectively proclaimed Japanese players to be the best in the game. His opponent in the Quarterfinals of the 2010 Japan National Championship, Tsuyoshi Ikeda, was one of the men responsible for paving the way for Shouta's success. After toiling on the early Pro Tour for years, Ikeda's trailblazing there gave younger players like Yasooka the confidence they needed to compete on the highest levels.

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda

    Ikeda won the roll and cast Spreading Seas on his second turn to knock out Shouta's first-turn land drop. Yasooka's Jund deck was notoriously shaky on its manabase, and a second copy of Spreading Seas further added to his woes a turn later. On four mana Shouta had enough colored mana to cast Bloodbraid Elf and used the 3/2 to make up some ground by cascading a free Sprouting Thrinax to the table. Wall of Omens for Tsuyoshi kept the Elf at bay and he cast a third Spreading Seas to leave his opponent with three Islands and a Forest.

    Shouta began attacking through the Wall with both his Elf and the Thrinax but had no more lands and could only watch as Tsuyoshi cast a Baneslayer Angel and began going on the offensive. Jace, the Mind Sculptor came down to help Tsuyoshi stay ahead and he used the fateseal ability to prevent it from dying to an attack out of Shouta.

    Feeling quite confident in his hold on the game Ikeda began activating Celestial Colonnade to join in attacking Yasooka. It took one turn of 9-point beats for Yasooka to realize he was too color screwed from Spreading Seas to continue and Ikeda had taken the first game.

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda 1, Shouta Yasooka 0

    On the play in the second game Shouta had at least one turn to make full use of his mana before Tsuyoshi Ikeda's Spreading Seas could begin mucking with it. He took full advantage casting Putrid Leech after opening on Raging Ravine and Swamp. The 2/2 was a powerfully aggressive threat against Ikeda's slower blue-white-red control strategy in part because it could attack through Wall of Omens and represented a five turn clock.

    Sure enough Ikeda cast Wall of Omens on his second turn but opted not to block when Shouta crashed in with the Leech. Post-combat the Jund player cast Blightning and nabbed Day of Judgment and Baneslayer Angel. Tsuyoshi simply played a land and passed on his turn.

    The Leech went back to the red zone and Ikeda blocked it with his Wall. Before it could die, however, he used Path to Exile on his own creature to ramp himself up a land. Post-combat Shouta cast a second Putrid Leech and passed and thanks to his extra mana Ikeda was able to cast Gideon Jura and use it to blow up his opponent's tapped Leech. Shouta fired back with Bloodbraid Elf cascading into Maelstrom Pulse for the planeswalker and sent his team sideways for 7.

    Without his Gideon Tsuyoshi found himself scrambling for a second plan and Shouta's 3/2 Elf and Putrid Leech quickly proved too much to handle, evening the match at one game a piece.

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda 1, Shouta Yasooka 1

    Spreading Seas was the first spell cast of the third game, just as it had been in the first game and it bought a surprising amount of time for Ikeda. He watched as his Jund opponent passed for three straight turns without a spell. Meanwhile the control player exploded with Everflowing Chalice accelerating him into Wall of Omens and Elspeth, Knight-Errant. The planeswalker began pumping out Soldier tokens to serve as blockers as the game went on.

    Goblin Ruinblaster with kicker was Yasooka's first spell, and it knocked out a Glacial Fortress. His second was Bloodbraid Elf cascading into Duress. The discard spell revealed Oblivion Ring, Journey to Nowhere, and Celestial Purge which was sent to the graveyard. He couldn't attack his Elf through the Wall and it looked like he was going to need to come up with an alternative to creatures if he wanted to win due to all the removal in his opponent's hand.

    Feeling comfortable with having the pace of the game in hand, Ikeda began activating a Celestial Colonnade in order to work on Shouta's life total. His Elspeth pumped out Soldiers to continue blocking on the ground and Yasooka's chances started looking very grim. He did find a second Bloodbraid Elf that cascaded him into Doom Blade and cleared the table of Soldiers by attacking, though it cost him one of the Bloodbraids and a Ruinblaster to do so.

    A second Goblin Ruinblaster for Shouta allowed him to knock the Celestial Colonnade out of the sky, but he found himself in need of a solution to Baneslayer Angel as Ikeda plopped a copy of the 5/5 onto the battlefield. He found it in Maelstrom Pulse but that still left Elspeth pumping Soldiers out; no matter what he did, Shouta couldn't catch a break.

    He cast Sarkhan the Mad but lost it a turn later to an attack from a Soldier token given an Angelic Blessing by Elspeth. He managed to clear his opponent's hand with a Duress, forcing Ikeda to respond by using Celestial Purge on Goblin Ruinblaster, and began pressuring with Lavaclaw Reaches. The creature-land's attack was simply sucked up by a Soldier token, which was replaced by Elspeth the following turn, and a second Celestial Colonnade made its way to the battlefield for Tsuyoshi. Shouta was still spinning his wheels, trying to dig his way out of the hole he was in.

    He cast Blightning to knock three loyalty counters off Elspeth and cast Goblin Ruinblaster with kicker to take out the Colonnade. The 2/1 and his Lavaclaw Reaches traded for three Soldier tokens, clearing the field of all creatures, and Shouta followed up with a planeswalker of his own in Garruk Wildspeaker. The green mythic pumped out a Beast and Ikeda had no play except to make a Soldier on his turn.

    Yet another Goblin Ruinblaster showed up for Shouta who sent it and his Beast to the red zone at Elspeth. A Soldier took out the Goblin and Elspeth fell to four loyalty. With no cards in his hand Tsuyoshi needed help from the top of his library but luckily he found it: Baneslayer Angel. He cast the 5/5 and watched as his opponent used the last loyalty counter on Garruk to make a third Beast, passing with no other action.

    The Angel went to the red zone to drop Shouta to 10 and Ikeda continued making Soldiers. Shouta attacked his Beasts into the planeswalker and then cast Pithing Needle to shut off Elspeth for good. He fell to 5 on his opponent's next attack and had one turn to draw an answer to the Angel. He didn't find it and found himself down two games.

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda 2, Shouta Yasooka 1

    Shouta Yasooka

    Back on the play Shouta again had his second-turn Putrid Leech and immediately sent it to the red zone on his second turn. When he pumped his opponent responded with Celestial Purge to take it out. Ikeda cast Wall of Omens to stall the ground and put himself up a card but lost a Celestial Colonnade to Goblin Ruinblaster with kicker from his opponent.

    A second copy of Goblin Ruinblaster took out a second non-basic from Ikeda and allowed Shouta to start attacking through the Wall of Omens for 2 each turn. With no spells to play on six mana, Yasooka activated a Raging Ravine and made his attack worth 6 as the Wall blocked a Ruinblaster. Ikeda's control deck worked on building up its manabase again, finally getting to four for Elspeth, Knight-Errant. She hopped a Soldier token to the battlefield and the 1/1 was ready and able to take out any Goblin Ruinblasters headed towards its owner.

    Shouta cast Maelstrom Pulse but surprisingly opted to target his opponent's Wall of Omens. He then sent both of his Ruinblasters at Elspeth, one connecting and one trading for the Soldier. Post-combat he had Blightning to finish the planeswalker off, his reasoning becoming clear. The discard spell nabbed Day of Judgment and Gideon Jura out of Ikeda's hand.

    Finally on five mana Ikeda cast Baneslayer Angel but sighed while doing so, apparently convinced his opponent had the removal spell. Shouta didn't, instead casting Siege-Gang Commander and Putrid Leech on his turn. An army of creatures was potentially better than the answer to Baneslayer, however, and the team of creatures staring him down from across the battlefield gave Ikeda pause as he drew for his next turn. He started doing calculations in his head, trying to figure out how much damage he was looking at from the creatures if he made specific plays based on the cards in his hand. Those cards? Journey to Nowhere, Elspeth, Knight-Errant, and Day of Judgment.

    Coming to an answer he liked, Ikeda used Journey to Nowhere on Siege-Gang Commander and then attacked with his Baneslayer. It was a race! With the terms of engagement decided it was Shouta's turn to take a dip in the tank in order to figure out how he could race his opponent's 5/5 lifelinker. He decided to send his entire team sideways including a Raging Ravine which picked up a second counter to become a 5/5. It was a hefty chunk out of Ikeda's life even after he had gained 5 from his Angel.

    Tsuyoshi drew for his turn and surveyed the battlefield yet again. After looking over his options, however, he decided he was in far too deep and surprisingly conceded, still with a Day of Judgment in his hand! But the sorcery wasn't enough to deal with his opponent's soon-to-be 6/6 Raging Ravine and a second copy waiting in the wings. The players were on to the rubber game with the score tied.

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda 2, Shouta Yasooka 2

    With one game between him and the Semifinals, Tsuyoshi Ikeda was forced to mulligan to start the fifth game of his match with Shouta Yasooka. When his hand of six was no better, the old school master found himself in a serious hurt all the way down to five cards with everything on the line. That set was good for five cards featuring Island, Tectonic Edge, two Wall of Omens, and a Journey to Nowhere. If Ikeda could come up with white mana he might be able to draw his way back into the game while cluttering up the ground with his Walls.

    Shouta had a solid start himself casting Putrid Leech on his second turn, the third time he had done so in the match, but soon lost the 2/2 to a Journey to Nowhere. Tsuyoshi had found a Celestial Colonnade to provide him the white necessary to cast the enchantment, and then began using it the mana to cast his Walls. What he didn't have was an answer to Garruk Wildspeaker when Shouta cast it, using it to make 3/3 Beast tokens.

    A tandem of Wall of Omens had been keeping his opponent's Beast tokens at bay for Tsuyoshi Ikeda, but Bituminous Blast changed that plan and netted Shouta a free Putrid Leech. Ikeda had battled his way to five mana and used it to cast Baneslayer Angel, then began attacking his opponent's life with the 5/5, completely ignoring the Garruk on the battlefield. With a host of instant speed removal in his hand, Ikeda looked in good shape save for the grip of cards his opponent was holding.

    Just like that Shouta turned things on their ear by casting a Bloodbraid Elf. The 3/2 cascaded into a Blightning and forced Tsuyoshi to lose some of his removal as he discarded Journey to Nowhere and Day of Judgment. He sent a Raging Ravine to the red zone and connected for 4 before passing. With his opponent tapped out, Ikeda was free to activate a Celestial Colonnade to join his Baneslayer in attacking. The combo put the score to 23-3 in his favor and despite his double mulligan he was in very good position.

    With not a lot of time left, Shouta had no choice but to send his team sideways attacking with Bloodbraid Elf, Putrid Leech, and two Beast tokens. Ikeda blocked a Bloodbraid with his Wall of Omens and fell to 13. Post-combat Shouta cast Siege-Gang Commander with enough mana untapped to sacrifice enough Goblins to take out the Baneslayer. Ikeda used Path to Exile to take out the Commander leaving Shouta with two cards in hand and dead to his opponent's attack unless he had a trick.

    On what had the potential to be the final turn of the match, Tsuyoshi Ikeda untapped and considered his options. Did he risk attacking all in and losing to some type of trick from his opponent? Or should he play safe and keep his creatures back? He thought about things, trying to get a read on Yasooka. With no evidence either way which play was correct, Ikeda activated his Colonnade and sent the team to the red zone. Shouta exhaled and nodded his head, scooping his cards up.

    Ikeda had done it!

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda 3, Shouta Yasooka 2

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda vs. Shouta Yasooka

     

  • Semifinals: Tsuyoshi Ikeda vs. Ryouichi Tamada
    by Bill Stark
  • The Semifinals of the 2010 Japan National Championship were a textbook case of old versus new. The young Ryouichi Tamada squared off against a member of the Japanese old guards and one of the country's most storied competitors: Tsuyoshi Ikeda. Each was playing for the right to compete to become the 2010 Japan National Champion.

    Ryouichi Tagomori's red deck worked on getting in early damage against Tsuyoshi Ikeda's blue-white-red control deck as it resolved and attacked with a second-turn Hellspark Elemental. Ikeda accelerated his manabase with an Everflowing Chalice and used it to cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor a turn early. He fatesealed his opponent and opted to put Hell's Thunder to the bottom of his library, then a turn later cast Baneslayer Angel. Poor Ryouichi Tamada was stuck on just two lands and didn't have an answer to the 5/5.

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda

    The red player drew for his turn hoping to find a third land. When he didn't, he conceded rather than try to battle through the incoming 10-point life swings a turn later. The game had ended in under five minutes, but surprisingly it was the control deck that had managed to win so quickly!

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda 1, Ryouichi Tamada 0

    The second game started off with Kargan Dragonlord for Ryouichi Tamada who used a Teetering Peaks to pump it and send for 4 on his third turn. Tsuyoshi Ikeda considered his course of action before using Path to Exile to take care of the creature permanently and save himself some damage. An Obsidian Fireheart out of Tamada met its end by way of Journey to Nowhere, but he did manage to connect with a Hell's Thunder.

    The unearth from the 4/4 Thunder managed to connect but Ryouichi started running out of steam. He cast an Earthquake for a whopping 7 but had it Negated. Chandra Nalaar merited a quick read from Ikeda but was countered with Flashfreeze. A Jace, the Mind Sculptor fatesealed to five loyalty counters then began Brainstorming each turn for Tsuyoshi who had the game under control and was simply hunting for a win condition. He found it in Baneslayer Angel, but the 5/5 was dispatched with a flurry of burn spells out of Tamada.

    A second copy of the Angel managed to find its way to the top of Ikeda's library, but it too went down in flames as Ryouichi had Lightning Bolt and double Searing Blaze to finish it off. That emptied his hand and with an active Jace on the table the red player seemed dead in the water. Mind Spring for five from Ikeda was enough to convince Tamada of the fact and he conceded to move on to the third game rather than battle through the overwhelming card disadvantage he found himself in.

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda 2, Ryouichi Tamada 0

    Ryouichi Tamada

    Ryouichi Tamada's tournament life was on the line and he had a deep hole to dig himself out of in order to defeat Tsuyoshi Ikeda. He opened on a second-turn Hellspark Elemental and attacked his opponent to 18 after Ikeda's first-turn land was Sejiri Refuge. The 3/1 unearthed for a second go-round, and a second copy did the same a turn later.

    Baneslayer Angel for Ikeda was felled by Searing Blaze and Burst Lightning out of Tamada, but the aggro deck wasn't offering much in the form of permanent threats. A Ball Lightning did manage to connect, but a Hell's Thunder bit the dust to Celestial Purge. Unfortunately for Tsuyoshi Ikeda, the Lightning had been enough to put him within range of an x-spell and Tamada revealed Earthquake for lethal. The control player nodded somberly and headed for his sideboard.

    Ryouichi Tamada's hopes were still alive!

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda 2, Ryouichi Tamada 1

    Still hoping to keep playing on Sunday, Tamada opened up the fourth game of the match with a Hellspark Elemental on his second turn. He had it permanently answered with Path to Exile but managed to connect with Ball Lightning pumped by Teetering Peaks. Ikeda resolved Jace, the Mind Sculptor and used it to fateseal his opponent to pump its loyalty. Gideon Jura also hit forcing each of Tamada's creatures to attack the planeswalker rather than Ikeda's life total.

    Tamada switched to Plan B as in burn, sending a Staggershock and Lightning Bolt at Tsuyoshi's face. That dropped the control mage to 6, then 4 on the rebound from the 'Shock. He had a grip full of powerful spells and two active planeswalkers but he was dangerously low on life. Trying to shore up that fact Ikeda cast Baneslayer Angel, but the play left him on just one mana untapped. That meant he couldn't counter as Ryouichi revealed an Earthquake for more than 4 and the players were headed to a fifth game.

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda 2, Ryouichi Tamada 2

    Ikeda accelerated with Everflowing Chalice to allow him to cast Mind Spring for two on his third turn. Tamada didn't seem to mind simply casting and attacking with Ball Lightning to drop Tsuyoshi to 14. The Chalice then powered a fourth-turn Gideon Jura, which quickly moved to eight loyalty counters. Ryouichi cast Staggershock at Ikeda's face and prepared to switch to the burn strategy early.

    He wouldn't have much time, however, as Tsuyoshi activated his Gideon and a Celestial Colonnade and sent them both to the red zone. The duo did 10 damage in one powerful punch and left the red player dead in another attack if he didn't have burn or blockers. Rather than risk losing his creatures to burn spells, Tsuyoshi sent with only his Gideon a turn later leaving Ryouichi at 4 life.

    Ryouichi cast two Burst Lightning targeting Ikeda, then a second clearly aiming to burn his opponent out. What he didn't know was that his opponent had two counters in hand and wasn't going to be able to execute on that plan. Tamada drew for the turn but didn't find enough burn and conceded sending Tsuyoshi Ikeda to the Finals.

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda 3, Ryouichi Tamada 2

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda vs. Ryouichi Tamada

     

  • Semifinals: Shou Tagomori vs. Katsuhiro Mori
    by Bill Stark
  • When the 2010 Japan National Championship Top 8 was called it split exactly in half: four seasoned veterans of the Pro Tour stage, four relative newcomers. Even the bracket had split in half pairing the pros against one another in the Quarterfinals while the rookies faced off against one another on the other side of things. But for Shou Tagomori, who had survived his first bout of the Sunday competition, it was on to the big time. He had to get through former world champion Katsuhiro Mori in order to claim the title of 2010 Japan National Champion, and Mori was not going to make it easy!

    Katsuhiro Mori

    Katushiro won the die roll, a happy place indeed for his red deck to be. He opened the game on Goblin Guide, arguably the most powerful play one can make on the first turn of Standard. Shou's Jund deck was going to have to work quickly in order to keep up with the hasty 2/2 and the burn spells that no doubt would follow it behind. Sure enough, Hellspark Elemental on the second turn meant an attack for 5 and just like that Tagomori found himself on 13. That became 12 as he used a Verdant Catacombs to find a Swamp, then cast Putrid Leech.

    The third turn brought a Ball Lightning for Mori who sent both the 6/1 and his Guide to the red zone. The Leech traded for the Goblin Guide and Tagomori fell to 6. The Jund player cast Sprouting Thrinax to keep up with his opponent, but fell to 2 on an attack from Hell's Thunder. Blightning emptied Mori's hand of all but one card but he revealed that card to be Lightning Bolt for the final points of damage and the players headed to the second game.

    Katsuhiro Mori 1, Shou Tagomori 0

    Though he was on the play, Katsuhiro Mori started the second game of his Semifinals match aggressively just the same with a Hellspark Elemental. He unearthed it a turn later and played Teetering Peaks to attack for 5, and had knocked his opponent to 12 on the third turn. Shou Tagomori fired back with a Bloodbraid Elf that netted him a free Lightning Bolt. A turn later he activated a Raging Ravine and attempted to send it to the red zone but his opponent had a trump: activating Arid Mesa for a Mountain then casting two copies of Searing Blaze. Because of the fetch-land Mori was able to trigger landfall and dropped his opponent to 6.

    Tagomori's total Semifinals time had taken under ten minutes and the second game was looking as poor as the first. He tried to get some action going, but his opponent revealed a Burst Lightning with kicker and Lightning Bolt to finish him off and Shou was down two games.

    Katsuhiro Mori 2, Shou Tagomori 0

    Goblin Guide hit on the first turn for Katsuhiro Mori, then was followed by a twin on his second turn. He also had Teetering Peaks to pump that copy, but Shou was ready with Lightning Bolt to kill the 4/2 and fell to 16. The Jund player then cast Sprouting Thrinax to help stabilize and his opponent was clearly not pleased about the 3/3 hitting the battlefield.

    Considering his options Mori cast Hellspark Elemental, then sent his team sideways. The Thrinax traded for the Hellspark but the Guide managed to connect. Tagomori replaced his first Thrinax with a second and that traded with the unearth from Hellspark. He then cast Putrid Leech and with a Doom Blade in hand and a Raging Ravine able to block felt confident enough to start attacking for the first time in the match. His Saprolings and Putrid Leech turned sideways and Mori had to adjust his life total from his opponent's actions for the first time in the Semifinals.

    Shou Tagomori

    A Siege-Gang Commander spelled almost certain doom for Mori and when Tagomori was able to begin attacking with his Goblins, Saprolings, Leech, and had mana up for Commander sacrifices Katsuhiro scooped.

    Katsuhiro Mori 2, Shou Tagomori 1

    The fourth game of the match kicked into high gear with Katsuhiro on the play. He opened on Goblin Guide and attacked for 2 but gave his opponent a free land in doing so. That meant Tagomori had to discard a Putrid Leech on his turn for having eight cards in hand but he got a pretty solid reprieve as Mori had no land drops for his second turn. Lightning Bolt from the Jund deck took out Goblin Guide and Katsuhiro began sending burn spells at his opponent's face.

    A Scalding Tarn gave Mori some hope, giving him his second land, and he used it on his opponent's turn to Searing Blaze a Sprouting Thrinax Shou had cast as a blocker. That put Tagomori to 10 but gave him three 1/1 Saprolings with which to potentially go aggro with. A Blightning from the Jund player knocked out Hellspark Elemental and a second Searing Blaze from Mori's hand.

    Katsuhiro drew, but didn't find a third land. He considered things for a moment, but then opted to concede. Just like that the match was headed to the fifth and deciding game!

    Katsuhiro Mori 2, Shou Tagomori 2

    The final game of the match started off in relatively slow fashion compared to the opening games with Mori's red deck failing to play any spells over the first three turns. That opened an opportunity for his opponent to cast Inquisition of Kozilek, seeing three copies of Searing Blaze and opting to force one to his opponent's graveyard. Mori topdecked a Hellspark Elemental and cast it, but it died to Lightning Bolt before being able to connect.

    Sprouting Thrinax hit for Shou, but he took 3 from a Quenchable Fire, then 3 more for lack of access to blue mana. A Verdant Catacombs dropped him to 13 life and he needed to find a pretty aggressive clock to beat his opponent before he died to burn. He tried for a second Sprouting Thrinax and a Putrid Leech and the duo stuck, putting the onus on Katsuhiro to come up with 13 more points of burn to stay in things.

    Mori unearthed his Hellspark Elemental and played Teetering Peaks to make it 5/1. He sent the creature sideways and Tagomori blocked with both a Thrinax and Putrid Leech. Pre-combat Mori cast Searing Blaze to take out the Leech and managed to drop his opponent to 7 with the attack. Unfortunately for the former champ, his opponent had Siege-Gang Commander to help stabilize and kill him in one turn. It was all down to one final draw step for Katsuhiro Mori.

    Mori untapped and played a Mountain. He used Searing Blaze to take out the Siege-Gang, then revealed Lightning Bolt and Burst Lightning. Tagomori checked the life totals but knew it was too late; his opponent had done it. Katsuhiro Mori was on to the Semifinals.

    Katshiro Mori 3, Shou Tagomori 2

    Shou Tagomori vs. Katsuhiro Mori

     

  • Playoff: Ryouichi Tamada vs. Shou Tagomori
    by Bill Stark
  • When the Top 8 for the 2010 Japan National Championship was announced it was split into two halves, seasoned pros and relative newcomers. The seasoned pros sent half their number to the Finals but it was down to Ryouichi Tamada and Shou Tagomori to determine which amongst the newcomers would join their veteran countrymen on behalf of Japan at the 2010 World Championships in Chiba. Tagomori's Jund deck was definitely not the favorite as it had already lost to a red deck on the day, which was exactly what Ryouichi Tamada was playing.

    Ryouichi Tamada

    Right on schedule Hellspark Elemental hit for Ryouichi on the second turn, but when he unearthed it and targeted it with Teetering Peaks on the third turn Shou cast Lightning Bolt to blow it up. The Jund player then cast a Sprouting Thrinax to help him stabilize, sacrificing it to block a second Hellspark. Tamada winced as he discarded two Earthquakes to a Blightning while taking 3 damage from Saprolings. He sent a Lightning Bolt straight to Tagomori's head at the end of his turn.

    A third copy of Earthquake cleared the table of Saprolings, but a second Blightning cleared Tamada's hand of spells. He unearthed a Hellspark Elemental to attack for 3 but lost the creature to a Lightning Bolt. The game was tied at 9 life each, and Bloodbraid Elf hit for Tagomori though the cascade whiffed. The 3/2 rumbled in to make it 9-6 in favor of Jund. A turn later Raging Ravine joined the party and the players headed to the second game with Shou Tagomori's Jund deck in the lead.

    Shou Tagomori 1, Ryouichi Tamada 0

    A Goblin Guide on the first turn for Ryouichi Tamada was killed by Forked Bolt from Shou Tagomori. A second copy of the 2/2 stuck, and was soon joined by Hellspark Elemental. That left Ryouichi feeling confident enough to begin sending burn at his opponent's head which he did in the form of an unkicked Burst Lightning. A Sprouting Thrinax from Shou sacrificed itself to absorb an attack from the Hellspark Elemental unearthed but Teetering Peaks made sure some of the trampler's damage made it through.

    Tagomori tried to stabilize but it was too little too late. His opponent unloaded with burn spells at the end of his turn, then untapped and revealed Earthquake for enough to even the match count; the game had whizzed by breathtakingly fast.

    Shou Tagomori 1, Ryouichi Tamada 1

    The third game of the match started very well for Ryouichi Tamada's red deck as he came right out of the gates with Goblin Guide. Shou had the Forked Bolt to kill it for the second game in a row, but a second copy hit for Tamada a turn later. Tagomori answered right back with a second Forked Bolt, but both missed a land drop.

    Shou cast Sprouting Thrinax but lost the 3/3 to a Searing Blaze a turn later and fell to 13 life. That became 12 as he used a Verdant Catacombs to find a Swamp but doing so enabled him to cast Sprouting Thrinax number two. Tagomori was ready for that play though, using a second Searing Blaze to take out the Thrinax then having exactly enough mana left over to Earthquake for 1 to clear the board of Saprolings and leave Tagomori on 8. Blightning wiped out the red player's hand, but he ripped Hellspark Elemental and crashed in for 3.

    After Shou had simply drawn and said go, Ryouichi topdecked a Mountain, which he played, then opted to pass rather than attack with an unearthed Hellspark Elemental. When he decided to make exactly that play the following turn, he only got 1 damage in due to the fact Tagomori had cast Siege-Gang Commander to fetch up a team of blockers. A Putrid Leech soon joined his team and he left his opponent with just one turn to live.

    Unfortunately for Shou Tagomori that turn was all his opponent needed as Ryouichi had Burst Lightning for exactly lethal damage to send the match to the fourth game with the red mage in the lead.

    Ryouichi Tamada 2, Shou Tagomori 1

    Shou Tagomori

    With his tournament life on the line, Shou Tagomori agonized over his opening hand, carefully examining every card in it to determine if he could afford to keep it or not. The verdict? No he could not and the grip went back to his library for six. Ryouichi's red deck was happy to stay on seven, and they got underway with Tagomori keeping after his mulligan.

    Inquisition of Kozilek for Shou revealed Ryouichi to be holding all lands except for a Hellspark Elemental and a Flame Slash. It was a weak hand, made weaker as the Hellspark went to the graveyard. A second Inquisition from Tagomori nabbed the Flame Slash too and left his opponent in a very poor position indeed.

    Sprouting Thrinax hit the table for Shou while Tamada's red deck delivered up land after land to his draw steps. Before long Lavaclaw Reaches and the Thrinax were pressuring Ryouchi's life, swinging for 6 while he was devoid of any action. A Burst Lightning gave him a removal spell with which he could target the creature-land to buy himself some time but a red deck burning an opponent's creatures to stay alive was rarely a good sign for the red player.

    Goblin Guide pumped by Teetering Peaks attempted to attack for 4, but was handled by Terminate. The Sprouting Thrinax continued crashing in, and got some help from a Blightning that emptied much of Ryouchi's hand. When the red player didn't draw a solution to Sprouting Thrinax on the top of his deck the players headed to the last game of the match.

    Ryouichi Tamada 2, Shou Tagomori 2

    It was all down to one final game, and Ryouichi Tamada's deck made the most of it giving him a Goblin Guide on his first turn and pumping it with a Teetering Peaks on the second. Shou Tagomori worked to come up with a solution to the 2/2 but took some time to cast Inquisition of Kozilek. The discard spell binned a Staggershock from his opponent's hand but revealed two copies of Searing Blaze waiting in the wings; Forked Bolt then took out the Guide.

    A Blightning nabbed one Searing Blaze and a land from Tamada's hand, but Shou found himself stuck on three lands. A second Blightning got most of the rest of the cards his opponent was holding and though he was slightly mana screwed Shou Tagomori looked to be in good shape against what was supposed to be a bad matchup. He ripped a Rootbound Crag and cast Sprouting Thrinax. Ryouichi played a Teetering Peaks with nothing to pump, then cast Searing Blaze to blow up the 3/3 Lizard.

    A Bloodbraid Elf managed to cascade into another discard spell, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Ryouichi was under intense pressure to topdeck like a fiend. His opponent had attackers, his life total was unstable as a result of the Blightnings, and he had an empty hand. When Tagomori sent his team sideways, Ryouichi extended his hand in defeat.

    Shou Tagomori will join the 2010 Japan National Team!

    Shou Tagomori 3, Ryouchi Tamada 2

    Ryouichi Tamada vs. Shou Tagomori

     

  • Finals: Tsuyoshi Ikeda vs. Katsuhiro Mori
    by Bill Stark
  • The title of 2010 Japanese National Champion was down to one final match. The players battling? Masters Katsuhiro Mori and Tsuyoshi Ikeda. Both were well documented successes at the game playing in just one of many Top 8s over the course of their careers, but there's something extra special about playing to represent the champion of your home country. For Mori it would be his second turn with the title, but he would have a tough road to pull that off with his red deck. After all, Ikeda had already beaten one red opponent on his way to the final match of the day.

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda

    Tsuyoshi's blue-red-white deck didn't offer up the goods for his first hand and he opted to mulligan to six. He took 2 damage on his first turn as Katsuhiro cast Goblin Guide, but he undid half the attack by playing Sejiri Refuge as his first land of the match. A turn later a second Goblin Guide allowed Mori to smash for 4, a very promising start for the former champion.

    Ikeda worked to dig himself out of the early hole he was in and cast Wall of Omens. The 0/4 absorbed one of the Guides in the following combat step and Katsuhiro cast a Kargan Dragonlord after attacking. Unfortunately for Tsuyoshi, his deck failed to give him a third land and he cast Spreading Seas in an attempt to find one. The play didn't work, and he passed with only two mana on the battlefield. Katsuhiro showed no mercy sending his team to the red zone and leveling his Dragonlord once post-combat. The red mage was slightly land screwed himself, also with only two on the table and one of those had been transformed into a relatively useless Island.

    A third land appeared for Tsuyoshi who used it to cast Oblivion Ring on his opponent's Dragonlord. He was still taking hits from the Goblin Guides but had managed to snap out of his mana screw. Mori, unfortunately, was still struggling. He finally found a third land and began doing calculations in his head. He cast Hell's Thunder and sent it to the red zone. The 4/4 connected and dropped Ikeda to 2. That was low enough to make any of a dozen cards from his opponent lethal, and when Mori revealed a land and Searing Blaze targeting his opponent's Wall of Omens Ikeda conceded the first game.

    Katsuhiro Mori 1, Tsuyoshi Ikeda 0

    Goblin Guide made an appearance on the first turn of the game yet again for Katsuhiro Mori but the little 2/2 was stopped in its tracks by Wall of Omens from Tsuyoshi Ikeda. That forced Mori to use Lightning Bolt after blockers to clear the path for his Goblin. Ikeda missed his third land drop and shipped the turn.

    A Ball Lightning from Mori met its end by way of Celestial Purge, but Katsuhiro got a small victory when his Goblin Guide failed to reveal a third land waiting for Ikeda on top of his deck. Instead the control player drew Wall of Omens, casting it and cantripping into his third land. Mori drew and pumped his fist, clearly excited by his draw. He played a Mountain, cast Flame Slash to take out the Wall, then cast a second Ball Lightning and crashed in for 8. It halved his opponent's life total putting the scores 19-8 in Katsuhiro's favor.

    Hell's Thunder met Flashfreeze and the Goblin Guide bit the dust to Path to Exile, but still there was no fourth land for Tsuyoshi. He found a fake version in Everflowing Chalice but fell to 4 after an attack from the unearthed Hell's Thunder. The two settled in to a game of draw, go with Katsuhiro building up a hand full of instant burn spells while Tsuyoshi bluffed a strong hand of counters and spot removal. Mori cast a Kargan Dragonlord and leveled it twice but lost it on Ikeda's turn to Journey to Nowhere. Ikeda tapped out to cast Wall of Omens but topdecked a land and played it.

    Katsuhiro Mori

    Mori smelled blood in the water and went for it. He cast Lightning Bolt at the end of Tsuyoshi's turn and it resolved, dropping Ikeda to 1. He untapped and drew, then revealed Searing Blaze. Even without a land drop for the turn it was enough for lethal and the players headed to the third game.

    Katsuhiro Mori 2, Tsuyoshi Ikeda 0

    For the third game of the match Katsuhiro Mori had a Goblin Guide on his first turn of the game while his opponent had but a land. Ikeda accelerated on turn two with an Everflowing Chalice but Mori absolutely unloaded. He played Teetering Peaks to pump his Goblin Guide, then cast a second copy of the 2/2 allowing him to drop Tsuyoshi to just 12 life on the second turn. Was the last game of the Finals going to be over by turn four?

    Ikeda went into the tank on his turn to come up with the best plan of action. He was in very hot water and needed to execute on some damage control quickly but what was the best course of action? He only had access to a single white mana meaning he couldn't cast Oblivion Ring and have mana up for Path to Exile, nor could he cast the Elspeth, Knight-Errant in his hand. He tapped three mana, leaving Glacial Fortress up, and cast Mind Spring to draw a card. He then passed the turn, ready to pull the trigger on his removal spell if he needed to.

    Mori could taste victory, but he didn't want to risk letting it slip from his grasp by making a small mistake. He did some math, then turned his Goblin Guides sideways. One was exiled via his opponent's pseudo Swords to Plowshares and post-combat he played an Arid Mesa before passing the turn. Tsuyoshi cast Oblivion Ring to take out the second Guide and used a Tectonic Edge to knock out a Teetering Peaks from his opponent. Mori untapped and cast Hell's Thunder, playing a Teetering Peaks to pump it to 6/4. That dropped Ikeda to 4, and he had one foot in the grave.

    He drew for his turn and failed, yet again, to find a second source of white. Mori unearthed Hell's Thunder and moved it to attack but Ikeda revealed Flashfreeze to counter. Mori passed the turn, but the judges swooped in to notify the players unearth is an activated ability, not a casting of the spell in the graveyard. That meant Flashfreeze couldn't stop it and Mori had actually been able to attack for lethal; Tsuyoshi extended his hand in defeat.

    Katsuhiro Mori is the 2010 Japanese National Champion!

    Katsuhiro 3, Tsuyoshi Ikeda 0

    Tsuyoshi Ikeda vs. Katsuhiro Mori
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